American Idol, Miss USA, The Olympics, elections, books, dancing, movies, food, wine. From singing competitions to the food we eat and the wine we drink, it is compared and calibrated by a score. What are the parameters used to grant a number or a rating and how reliable are ratings when so much of what we find pleasing, appealing or excellent is purely subjective. For instance, can we look to a score on a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to gauge a wine’s potential for enjoyment when individual tastes vary so widely? Wine is scrutinized, gauged and rated not by peers or consumers but, by 'professionals' who ascribe these ratings as a score intended for submission to the public via magazines, websites, social media etc.
Let’s dissect and analyze a wine score. What goes into a wine rating?
A wine rating is a score assigned by one or more wine critics for a wine tasted as a summary of that critic's evaluation of that wine. A wine rating is therefore a subjective quality score, typically numerical. Over the last couple of decades, the 50-100 scale introduced by Robert M Parker Jr. has become the standard. This scale is now used by ‘the big 3’, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, and Wine Advocate.
95-100 Classic: a great wine
90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
80-84 Good: a solid, well-made wine
75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
50-74 Not recommended
In addition to a simple numerical score most wine ratings are meant to be a supplement to the wine tasting notes, which are brief descriptions of the critic's impression of the wine, including aromatics, flavor qualities, and ageing potential or drinking window. However, the emphasis is more often on the score applied by a critic rather than on the actual tasting notes.
Castello di Amorosa wines have been well received by ‘The Big 3’. Parker’s accolades for Il Barone and La Castellana were a huge boon for Castello di Amorosa as one of our first published big ratings. Wine Enthusiast’s critical acclaim for Castello's wines is a source of great pride and most recently, Wine Spectator has granted some very big numbers indeed.
2010 La Castellana: James Laube, Wine Spectator (92 Points) – Intense, with firm, ripe, vibrant cedar, red and dark berry, anise and loamy earth flavors, framed by chewy tannins and ending with a long finish laced with notes of black licorice. Drink now through 2024.
2010 Don Thomas: James Laube, Wine Spectator (94 Points) – Amazingly complex and refined, tuned to a mix of red and dark berry that’s elegant and graceful without sacrificing Cabernet’s power and torque. Ends with classic Bourdeaux-like cedar and cigar box touches, gliding along with fine-grained tannins. Drink now through 2028.
In an effort to remain unbiased, educated and in-touch with the amazing wines of Napa Valley we conduct blind tastings throughout the year for our Castello staff to participate in.
A great tasting needs a great room!
We tasted 27 different Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in the Great Hall of Castello di Amorosa--
Here is the line-up....
The bottles were placed in a brown bag and numbered by a non-tasting non-voting participant....
....which guarantees an unbiased result.
Castello Pres Georg Salzner and Vice President Jim Sullivan enter the results.
The room cheered when the winner was revealed!
Check out more great scores for Castello di Amorosa's wines-
As the western United States wades through another year of drought and record- breaking almost non-existent rainfall totals (so far!), old man winter has tackled the mid-west and sucker-punched much of the nation with record-breaking cold temps. Another event is approaching to further benchmark winter 2014. On February 06 the 22nd Winter Olympic Games begin in Sochi Russia—and the opening ceremonies televised on February 07 are sure-to-be epic.
The first celebration of the Winter Olympic Games was held in Chamonix, France in 1924 and have now been hosted on three continents. Twelve countries have attended every Winter Olympic games and six of those (Austria, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United States) have earned medals at every Winter Olympic Games. However, only one - the United States - has earned gold at each Olympic Games.
In wine country, January ushers in one more iconic winter event, The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. This competition began in 1983 as the Cloverdale Citrus Fair Wine Competition. Today, it is known as the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and holds the title of the largest competition of American Wines in the World….a wine Olympics. On the subject of olympics and medals and earning gold (in wine competitions there is a double gold and the coveted Best of Class!), I could turn this into an all-around high-five big kudos to Castello di Amorosa’s amazing wine making team with the recent Gold Medal performances but instead, I am getting ready for a sure-to-be-epic opening ceremony of my own, time for a glass of gold medal winning Cabernet Sauvignon.
Beyond Double Gold—Best of Class
Best of Class and tonight, best in the glass
2009 Castello di Amorosa Cabernet Sauvignon is one of my favorite Cabernets. It exhibits depth and strength but exudes finesse and elegance. Exactly what every gold medalist needs—power and grace!
Opening Ceremony Night Dinner --Because timing is important too!
Salisbury Steak with Fingerling Potato Hash
Make this revised classic in 30 minutes!
For the Salisbury Steaks combine:
1.5 pound lean ground beef
1 tsp. coarse ground pepper
½ sweet onion finely chopped
½ package onion soup mix
1 tsp. mustard
1 tsp. ketchup
2 tsps. Worcestershire
Form into 4-6 oval patties and brown in large sauté pan, approximately 2-3 minutes each side. Remove and place in shallow backing dish and finish in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
Dice potatoes, mushrooms, and remaining ½ sweet onion. Brown onion in 3 Tbsp. butter. Add mushrooms and potatoes after onions have begun to sweat. Add beef stock/broth, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a slow simmer adding broth as needed approx.15 minutes.
Remove Salisbury Steaks from oven and serve with hash
While enjoying a 'Royal Pairing' at the Castello, it happened. Once again, the stage was perfectly set. The winter wind was blowing and the unending sunshine had temporarily given way to much-needed rainfall. Through looming clouds the late afternoon sun peeked out just enough to splash a bright ray of light dazzling the Vaca Mountains. During this tasting experience….it happened…we fully experienced the tasting and the afternoon was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Is a wine tasting experience simply a contemplation of taste? To savor or enjoy on our palate? Or, is how we taste influenced by all of our senses and emotions subject to and affected by our surroundings? Wine tasting is defined as the “palate’s examination and evaluation of taste”. I can’t find fault with this scientific and clinical definition, but, it does seem sterile. When tasting wine our sensations of taste and smell are fundamental, however, by setting the stage we can taste not just what is in the glass, but, we can savor the entire experience; experience taste.
A wine tasting experience is visual- demonstrated by Castello president Georg Salzner and Dario Sattui
Not only by examining the content of the glass....
a beautiful environment impacts our enjoyment of an experience.
The room was picture-perfect, warm and inviting. The glasses were glistening and the candles were glowing.
Many chefs are fond of the saying, “we eat with our eyes first”, and there is research to support this. Studies have shown when we find food visually appealing, not only do we enjoy it more, we also absorb more nutrients from it.
What we hear also has impact. Music evokes emotions and feelings and can be far more powerful than spoken language. Andrea Bocelli gets me every time...
The most important element is to surround yourself with friends and people you love. Create a tasting experience whenever you want and wherever you are and you will truly experience taste.
Castello team members Alison, Jason, Kylee and Melissa sharing laughs and great vino!
My husband and I sharing a moment....salud!
According to research conducted by the University Of Scranton Journal Of Clinical Psychology, although the majority of Americans make annual proclamations and set yearly goals with good intentions, less than 8% of us actually achieve success in keeping New Year’s resolutions. Here is a list of the top 10 yearly resolutions:
Enjoy life to the fullest
Get fit and healthy
Learn something exciting
Help others with their dreams
Fall in love
Spend more time with family
The sure way to improve on this dismal statistic? Set obtainable goals. Unrealistic resolutions are destined for failure so I’ve created a list of 10 highly achievable food and wine resolutions to put myself on task over the next 12 months. Even if I don’t strike the entire 10, I am bound to have a great time trying! In 2014 I resolve to...
Make a cheese soufflé A masterpiece of a thickened white sauce paired with flavorful cheese. The inside is delicate and warm and the bottom and sides are crusted together forming a heavenly thick cheese layer. Nirvana!
Eat more fish Seafood is healthy, light and the perfect canvas for many amazing spices and preparations. My good friends Tim and Carol Berg at www.great-alaska-seafood.com have spoiled me rotten with the freshest seafood available and this feast was no exception. Scallops with Pappardelle pasta in a Tarragon cream sauce. Decadent!
Pair more sweet wine with savory foods On the Royal Pairing tour at the Castello, sweet and savory is a palate pleaser and always promises alluring and exotic pairing possibilities. Castello di Amorosa Dolcino Gewurztraminer and Moroccan spiced pork loin looming on the horizon.
Try one new restaurant a month Even here in the promised land of epicurean delights --I get in a rut. The same four restaurants seem to be on my go-to list not because I don’t have seemingly infinite choices but because…well… the choices can seem infinite! January is a great time to start as it is Napa Valley Restaurant Month and a perfect opportunity for new restaurant adventures.
Visit one new winery a month With 450+ wineries just in Napa Valley and 1600+ in a 150 mile radius! How many days in a year?
Eat vegetarian for 30 days I love vegetables of all kinds and welcome this 30 day meat free stint.
Take a class I aspire to become more educated on the vine to wine process— after nearly 20 years on this side of the glass, I am still amazed at the sheer scientific/artistic process in which we finally arrive at this crazy delicious fermented grape juice. As much as I read and learn I realize how much there is yet to discover. Hence, the love of this elixir!
Buy more magnums Magnums, or 1.5 L is equal to 2 standard 750 ml bottles. Magnums not only have a ‘wow’ factor but wines from a mag show better with more fruit and an intangible zip. When one bottle isn’t quite enough, one bottle of 1.5L often is just enough.
Take more culinary risks I am reluctant to try new techniques (see resolution #1) as I fear failure. The catastrophic kind of kitchen failure. I have heard from some professional chefs that the reason there are more males than females in the culinary industry is because men are not afraid to make mistakes. If something isn’t right, most men will simply toss it and have another go at it. Women become attached; we want to ‘save’ it and ‘fix’ it. By the way, I am referring to culinary attempts here but it seems this theory has many applications. =)
Travel! I want to spend an entire month in Italy. Not a rushed jaunt or a hurried two week trek! I want to go for a month with time to explore and savor—maybe take an Italian cooking class in Tuscany. I want to drink local wine, aimlessly roam the streets, drink in the art and feast on authentic cuisine. For a month I will absorb everything Castello di Amorosa summons in my heart and in my mind. Hear that Castello? Consider this my official vacation request; January 2015 will be blogged from fair Firenze!
I am a cooking and food magazine junkie. It all started with my Mom and a ritual that took place during our visit to the ‘beauty parlor’ (not a salon, but the beauty parlor!) for Mom’s weekly scheduled shampoo and set. Here she regularly scoured through the latest edition of ‘Family Circle’, ‘Good Housekeeping’ and ‘Sunset’ magazines and recited recipes in a much too loud voice so I (and everyone in a 20 yard radius) could hear her over the constant noise generated by the mission control-like dryer chair. I would nod with dutiful approval dotted with an intermittent ‘yep, sounds good’ which were typically enough to satiate her. To add to her enjoyment and proof I really was listening, I even managed to insert a question or two; “what is braising?” or “why does it have to be sifted?” This launched her into an explanation that today seems worthy of ‘Food Network’. However, one particular phrase seemed to arise on nearly every recipe and always required definition and clarification — “season to taste”.
Mom explained the following:
Add salt until it you taste it. If it seems bland- it probably is. Increase by a ¼ tsp. and taste after each addition.
Add seasoning and spices (pepper, fresh herbs, dried seasoning) until the taste is in balance with the rest of the flavors. Make sure spices and seasonings cook along with the dish. However, additional fresh herbs added at the end can make a big difference.
Add acid (Tabasco, lemon juice, or vinegar) if it tastes flat or one-dimensional. Hot sauce works in creamy dishes because the acid from the vinegar and the heat from the peppers boost the flavors. Keep a light hand; if the dish isn't supposed to be "spicy hot" add just a splash of hot sauce then use vinegar or lemon juice.
Add sugar; the tried and true fix if you overdo it. Sugar balances both salty and bitter flavors. Adding a touch of sugar makes too salty taste less salty and too bitter or sour taste less bitter without actually decreasing the amount of salt or acid in the recipe.
The thing is, Mom’s beauty shop narrations were not idle or forgotten ideas of an affordable casserole or a quick and easy dessert, they were her inspiration for future meals and goodies that made it to the family table and eventually led to my life-long pursuit of ‘tasting’.
Here is one of my cold-weather favorites. It is hearty, spicy, savory and comforting; ideal to keep in the fridge and warm up after a day of visiting with friends and family or after hours of wrapping followed by seconds of unwrapping. Remember always adjust the spices as you progress and as in all recipes—season to taste!
I wish you perfectly seasoned greetings--
4 Cups Beef Broth
4 Cups Chicken Broth
2 large cans crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
2 large cans diced tomatoes
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. spicy sausage
2 heads of cabbage, cored and diced
1 small bag frozen white corn
4-6 carrots thinly sliced
4-6 stalks diced celery
4 large cloves minced garlic
1 bunch of chopped cilantro (set some aside for garnish)
1 large diced brown onion
Season to taste =)
Brown ground meat and/or sausage. Add to a large pot with all other ingredients. Cook over medium low heat until vegetables are to desired softness. To accelerate the cooking process, give the veggies a quick sauté before adding to the pot. Stir and taste often and, as always, add seasoning as needed.
My current library. The Better Homes and Garden cook book was a wedding gift from who else; my Mom. Held together by a rubber band, for 24 years I have referred to this book filled with hand written notes and recipes.
‘Deconstructed’ is contemporary food lingo but Mom would have just said this was quicker and easier than making and cooking meatballs! This is tasty and easy to reheat during the upcoming week of merriment or freeze leftovers in containers for up to 6 months.
Dry, crisp and almost exotic; Castello di Amorosa’s Anderson Valley Gewurztraminer balances the spice and works with the richness of the ground meat and sausage. Perfect for a first course or as a hearty meal served with fresh bread or warm tortillas.
The turn of the twentieth century was indeed a dark (and dry) time in American history. Organizations like The Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which promoted Prohibition, believed alcohol to be the cause of most social ills. On January 16th, 1919, Congress passed the 18th Amendment, outlawing alcohol thereby putting an end to drunkenness, crime, mental illness, and poverty. (Ahem!)
Ironically, during Prohibition, America's thirst increased. Organized crime rose to replace formerly legal methods of alcohol production and distribution. Ultimately, respect for the law diminished and drunkenness, crime and resentment of the federal government prevailed. Over the course of the next thirteen years, support for Prohibition waned as the nation awoke to the widespread problems Prohibition caused. The number of repeal organizations increased, and in 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for President on a platform that included the repeal of Prohibition. He won that race and on December 5th, 1933, Pennsylvania and Utah, the final states needed for a three quarters majority, ratified the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition and restoring our right to a celebratory drink. The 18th amendment remains the only amendment to our Constitution to ever be repealed.
On December 5th we celebrate Repeal because it marks a return to the rich traditions and enjoyment of alcohol as a sacred and protected social custom. Conveniently located between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Repeal presents the perfect occasion to gather with friends and celebrate! Unlike St. Patrick's Day or Halloween Repeal is a day we can all share in observing; it's written in our Constitution.There are no outfits to buy, costumes to rent, or gifts to wrap. Simply celebrate the day by sharing a glass of wine with a loved one.
Raise a glass!
The 18th Amendment
Ratified January 16, 1919
Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
The 21st Amendment
Ratified December 5, 1933
Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
The suggested pairing for your celebration!
For millions ‘Black Friday’ means time to do serious Christmas shopping --even before the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone- shopping routes are planned and parking strategies formulated. The Friday after Thanksgiving is one of the major shopping days of the year. Dating back to the start of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial- official start to a bustling and prosperous shopping season.
The term ‘Black Friday’ was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season referring to stores moving from the ‘red’ to the ‘black’. Of course, this was when accounting records were kept by hand; red ink indicated a loss and black ink showed a profit. Retailers began to realize they could draw big crowds by discounting prices and ‘Black Friday’ became the day to shop bringing with it even better deals than last minute Christmas sales. Many retailers now open at 5 am or earlier(!!!) to hoards of people waiting anxiously outside.
However, more and more consumers are choosing to shop online, not wanting to wait outside in the early morning chill with the crush of other shoppers or a battle over the last most-wanted item. Online shopping is easy, dependable and with the many shipping specials and pricing incentives—the deals are hard to beat. Now this is where the red comes in…pour a big glass and let the bargains begin! It's the only way to shop!
Castello di Amorosa's Black Friday special!
I was at a dinner party a couple of weeks ago and the subject of Napa Valley wine came up – I realize this is not shocking nor in itself blog-worthy! However, at this dinner we were specifically discussing Chardonnay. Maybe it was the time year as Chardonnay was the grape harvest du jour. Maybe it was the company I was in; long time Napa locals and wine makers. Maybe it was the wine I brought for the occasion.
This was mildly ironic as not more than 8 years prior I attended an ABC dinner, an entire night of Anything But Chardonnay. Admittedly, I was a reluctant participant but I attended *sigh* and took part in the grape bashing. “Too oaky!” claimed one reveler. “Manipulated and contrived” cried another! My favorite denial of this classic varietal was “Chardonnay does not pair well with ANY food!”
Wow--quite a statement! However, to put it bluntly; they were wrong.
It is now a number of years later and we are approaching Veteran’s Day. In America, this day is reserved as a time to reflect and celebrate past heroes and champions. Perhaps wine lovers should follow suit and pay respect to one of America’s wine heroes. After all, it was a California Chardonnay that won the 1976 Paris tasting and brought recognition and eventually fame to a small farming community; Napa Valley.
Chardonnay is the second most planted white wine varietal in France and remains the most planted white wine grape on the planet. Additionally, Chardonnay styles differ dramatically and can reflect the artistry of wine making; buttery and oaky, crisp and fruity, austere with minerality. Combined with the diversity of soil and climatic zones, Chardonnay exhibits varied complexities and offers ageble wines with broad appeal. Plus, in the last 20 years wine makers have found malolactic fermentation and oak ageing are winemaking tools, but don’t have to be used fully, or at all, with every Chardonnay.
I regret my brief slide into the ABC movement. While our preferences may change as we explore different growing regions, varietals, and styles of winemaking; it is important to stay open-minded and savor new discoveries. And sometimes, we just have to stick to our guns and defend tried and true veterans that brought victory to the field and eventually… to our glass!
Chardonnay is primarily fermented in oak and is aged sur lie or on the lees. Lees refers to deposits of residual yeast and other particles occurring during fermentation. Ageing sur lie softens the taste of Chardonnay, especially on the finish. Oak provides oils and resins which not only add to the overall flavor and character of the wine but make Chardonnay a white wine which can benefit from bottle ageing.
The 2007 Napa Valley Chardonnay has become ripe and juicy with golden apple, comice pear and lightly toasted brulee. If you have any of this Castello beauty hiding in the corner bring it out this Thanksgiving! Enjoy with a hearty harvest salad garnished with candied pecans and crumbled Feta
The 2008 Castello di Amorosa Bien Nacido Chardonnay knocked my proverbial wine-socks off! At five years from vintage this was visually beautiful and simply stunning in the glass. Vanilla and spice were the words repeated again and again, however, the 2008 Bien Nacido retained its fruit and was vivid on the palate.
Chardonnay may not be the traditional go-to for Ahi salad, but, a bit of ageing leveled off the acidity and the velvety texture of the avocado played off the creamy notes of the Chardonnay. This was a delicious and luxurious pairing.
Ahi and Avocado Salad with Ponzu
½ cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
1 thinly sliced green onion
1 ½ tsp. lime juice w/ zest to taste
Mix well and pour over cubed Ahi and Avocado
In all honesty, Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. I don’t have a sweet tooth, I never liked to dress in costumes and fright movies terrify me. With three older brothers I was often the victim of pranks and shenanigans and I am quite certain my irrational fear of monkeys and primates can be traced to the mischief my brothers concocted which turned grade school trips to the zoo into angst ridden rituals. The only aspect of Halloween I truly warmed to was the fact that traditionally Halloween marks the beginning of the holiday season. Fall and winter vegetables replace summer fruits and the conspicuous cornucopia of harvest prevails. Bring out the blankets and smell the spices wafting in the chilled autumn air.
I know, I know… its Halloween and fright-night festivities may be on the agenda; perhaps not a trick-or-treat outing but maybe a cozy dinner party with a few friends followed by a few favorite movies. And just because it’s a holiday spotlighting pumpkins and candy corn does not mean we should throw thoughts of food and wine pairing to the jack-o-lantern! Take a cue from one of the most ominous and frightening movie monsters in history, move over Freddy and Jason—Hannibal Lecter gets my vote for Halloween’s classic scary movie poster- boy! Hannibal is creepy, petrifying and unnervingly disturbing and yet even while shackled in chains and full facial restraint he maintained a pompous arrogance. This notorious villain has one quality I can’t fault; he certainly cared about pairing his meals with the correct wine! *ahem* Plus, he obviously loves vino Italiano which makes Hannibal Lecter Castello di Amorosa’s gruesomely detestable official “Fright Knight’.
Savor this Halloween with a delicious and super easy comforting classic -- replete with fava beans and a nice Chianti…. (Sangiovese, of course!) Pop in a DVD and enjoy.....
Silence of the Lamb Shanks!
Easy Crock Pot Lamb Shanks
Brown Lamb Shanks in grape seed oil in large pan
Season generously with Salt and Pepper
Place browned shanks into crock pot and top with the following:
1/2 C red wine
1/2 C beef stock
1 can (14 oz) Italian style diced tomatoes
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
8-10 cloves of diced garlic
4 large sliced mushrooms
1 TBSP Worcestershire
1 sweet onion cut into large slices
Place crock pot on low 6 -8 hours, remove shanks and plate with sauce and vegetables
Mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, broth and red wine create a delicious sauce.
Sangiovese, the primary grape grown in the Chianti region of Tuscany, is a very important varietal at Castello di Amorosa. Sangiovese also provides a spine of bright red cherry in blends like il Brigante and la Castellana.
The silence of the lamb shanks; fava beans and a nice 'Chianti' in true Castello style!
For the last 19 months, I have been on a journey of more healthful eating. This has included only small quantities of lean meats with most animal proteins in the family of fish and fowl. Most of my daily caloric intake comes from fiber via fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. I thought I was doing great; losing pounds, gaining stamina….I felt renewed…invigorated... healthy. However, while a high-fat, high-calorie diet increases the risk of gallstones, apparently a very low fat weight loss plan can also cause issues. While a low fat diet allows you to lose weight, with smaller quantities of fat and oil to break down, the gallbladder does not contract or empty as frequently, and, as a result, this may produce a build-up of bile and possibly an increased risk of gallstones.
With my gallbladder permanently out of the equation, I've taken time in the last few weeks for a little research…. along with a little lab work (i.e. cooking in the kitchen) in an effort to repair my relationship with fats and oils.
Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature. Although oils are not a food group, they provide essential nutrients and are therefore included in USDA recommendations of what to eat. Most fats should be polyunsaturated (PUFA) or monounsaturated (MUFA) fats. Oils are the major source of MUFAs and PUFAs in the diet.
My research eventually took me to an article published by Bon Appétit. Who better than the good eating experts to help guide me in my search for healthy and tasty oil? “Some fat is actually good for you,” the article quotes Alice H. Lichtenstein, director of the cardiovascular nutrition laboratory at Tufts University. “But, to get the most from fats, you need to go beyond olive oil. Open your cupboard to new flavors, cooking temperatures–and health benefits–by diversifying your oils.” In the number one position of most healthful oil on Bon Appétit's list—grape seed oil! High in polyunsaturated fats and vitamin E, grape seed oil has a high smoke point, which makes it a good substitute for olive or vegetable oils for a sauté or stir-fry, and because it has light and clean flavors on the palate, it lets top-notch ingredients stand out.
I remain diligent when it comes to healthy eating and food choices. However, as a discerning skeptic my cynical tendencies combined with my resistance to change has always played second string to the great equalizer; taste! Donning a lab coat for this foray instead of an apron, I must experiment. I made a few fairly standard favorites where I traditionally used olive oil and substituted grape seed oil.
The results were en-lightening!
The process begins on the conveyor for these yummy clusters. Ready to go into the hopper where the stems will be separated and then composted.
Although we are a world of organic goals, long term sustainability is realistic and achievable now. The stems are separated from the clusters and prepared for composting and provide vital nutrients in the vineyard.
After fermentation and a final press of the skins, the pumace is taken and the seeds will be separated and dried.
After several months, the dried grape seeds are ready to be pressed and oil is extracted from the seeds. The oil is obtained through pressing and grinding seeds with the use of stainless steel presses. Since grape seeds are discarded as part of the wine making process, the extraction of the oil is an efficient and sustainable use of a byproduct.
The best oils are cold pressed. Although pressing and grinding produces heat through friction, the temperature must not rise above 120°F for any oil to be considered cold pressed. Cold pressed oils retain their flavor, aroma, and nutritional value. Sample cold pressed grape seed oils at Castello di Amorosa on the Royal Food and Wine Pairing tour.
Since grape seed oil is lighter than olive oil, I was having a problem with a pool of oil accumulating at the bottom of the salad bowl. Problem solved; when making salads, I now add the seasonings and toss it which coats the lettuce with the seasoning giving the oil something to adhere to. Light, healthy and the lettuce retained its crispness.
I drizzled a little Sauvignon Blanc grape seed oil and basil on the bruschetta bites—delicious!
Stir fry and sautés are my favorite use of grape seed oil. Since grape seed oil has a higher smoking point than olive oil, veggies and meat are added to a hotter pan. Plus, the grape seed oil gives off very little flavor in a sauté and this really lets the ingredients shine.